Key Soft Skills for
Accountants and Bookkeepers

See also: Career Management Skills

Many people believe in the misconception that a successful career in accounting and bookkeeping hinges solely on mathematical skills and an understanding of accounting terms like accounts payable and receivable. But this is far from true.

While technical proficiency in spreadsheets and financial statements is the backbone of the profession, soft skills are another side of the coin to consider for accounting success.

Why do Bookkeepers and Accountants Need Soft Skills?

Well-developed soft skills, such as interpersonal and communication skills, can make all the difference in your career. Luckily, nowadays, you can find a bookkeeping coach to help you develop both hard and soft skills. Soft skills help you build trust with clients and collaborate effectively with colleagues.

So, what are the soft skills accountants need? Here are the top seven soft skills you need:

1. Communication Skills

Developing your communication skills is a no-brainer. Communication is at the core of accounting and bookkeeping. You could be explaining complex financial information to a non-financial audience or collaborating with colleagues. Clear and effective communication is essential at all times.

This communication is not restricted to verbal skills. Your written skills should also match your verbal skills. In your role as an accountant and bookkeeper, you will be in charge of writing technical reports, presenting briefs to clients and colleagues as well as mail correspondence. These tasks require excellent writing skills that will show you can articulate complex financial concepts in a way that’s understandable to clients and stakeholders.

The ability to listen is also a great communication skill to have in your bookkeeping arsenal. Active listening ensures that you fully understand the needs and concerns of your clients or team members. It helps you provide personalized counsel that is accurate and relevant to your clients.

2. Attention to Detail

While technically not a soft skill, attention to detail is vital in accounting processes. A single misplaced number can snowball into big problems. It can be as little as misplacing a decimal point. For instance, inputting a company’s generated revenue as $10,000,000 rather than $1,000,000 can have severe repercussions, including:

  • Increase in allocated funds during budgeting and, consequently, cash flow problems

  • Sanctions and increased scrutiny by regulatory bodies

  • Reputational damage and swaying investor/customer loyalty

Developing a keen eye for detail ensures accuracy. In this way, you can build trust and credibility with clients and colleagues alike.

3. Problem-Solving Skills

Financial hiccups are inevitable. But by being good at problem-solving, you can identify issues, analyze causes, and develop solutions that keep the financial house in order. Two soft skills—analytical thinking and critical thinking—are essential to excelling at problem-solving in your accounting and bookkeeping role.

  • Analytical Thinking

    Accountants and bookkeepers often face complex financial puzzles. Analytical thinking skills enable them to dissect these problems and find effective solutions. Whether it’s a discrepancy in the books or the ability to draw insights beneficial to business operations from a vast amount of data. Possessing this skill helps you to approach problems methodically to find solutions.

  • Critical Thinking

    Critical thinking allows accountants and bookkeepers to evaluate information logically and make informed decisions. This involves not just understanding the numbers but also interpreting what they mean in a broader business context. Critical thinking supports strategic planning and provides valuable insights that can drive business growth.

4. Adaptability

Technological disruption in different industries is commonplace now. Likewise, the financial world is constantly evolving. New regulations and changing technologies are all a part of being an accountant and bookkeeper. Adaptability is one soft skill of an accountant that allows you to learn new skills, embrace new software, and stay ahead of the curve.

However, adaptability is not restricted to just the software and technologies you will use in your work. It also refers to the people you will work with or interact with. For your work, you will work with clients that have business models different from what you are used to. Adapting well and fast will help you serve your clients better as you comprehend their business needs and meet them.

5. Time Management

Often overlooked as a minor aspect of the accounting workflow, time management is one of the soft skills needed for accounting. Where deadlines are non-negotiable, being able to plan and manage your time adequately is an invaluable skill.

Time management skills include prioritizing tasks and managing workloads. Meeting deadlines ensures that financial reports and tax filings are completed accurately and on time. Not only does this save you extra costs for penalties, but it also improves your work efficiency and productivity.

Effective time management also reduces stress by giving you enough time to review your work rather than leaving everything to the last minute.

Numbers might not lie, but messy books sure do. Time management goes hand-in-hand with great organizational skills. Excellent organization keeps you on top of deadlines. It ensures accuracy and lets you find what you need in a flash.

6. Ethical Judgment and Integrity

Trust is the currency of the accounting profession. Clients and employers must be confident that their financial information is handled with the utmost integrity. Ethical judgment ensures that accountants and bookkeepers adhere to the highest standards of professionalism, transparency, and honesty. So, for your work to be taken as reliable at face value, you must ensure you uphold ethical judgment and integrity in your work.

7. Interpersonal Skills

Accounting isn't done in a silo. You will work with clients, colleagues from different departments, and maybe even auditors. Building and maintaining strong interpersonal skills with clients and colleagues helps you build rapport and understand their needs. It makes for a seamless workflow.

A positive and professional demeanor enhances client satisfaction while making for a collaborative work environment. This is because these conditions allow for empathy and patience.

Also, excellent interpersonal skills prime you up for leadership and management skills. If you are aspiring to be in a position of leadership, good interpersonal skills are one of the skills you need for successful leadership and management of your work teams. You may even need to offer mentorship and guidance to your subordinates. Hence, this soft skill has indispensable benefits for accountants and bookkeepers.

About the Author

Amy Fischer was born in Israel, studied in the UK and now works in the US. She is an experienced specialist who is well versed in economics and banking. Also in her spare time, Amy shares her experience and interesting news with the readers of various blogs.